I was talking to a friend the other day about the Public Land Development Corp. — the state agency created to jump-start development on public lands by allowing projects to bypass various environmental reviews and county zoning.
And he made the most penetrating, astute comment I've yet heard on the much-debated subject:
The thing that's so disturbing about the PLDC is it's such a cynical statement from our government, that the economy is in such bad shape we can't follow our own rules. We're admitting our system is dysfunctional, so we're giving up. It means the rules don't work, and whoever has clout can trump them.
Yes, and now people are rebelling against the PLDC, because intuitively, they've felt this is how things have been done in Hawaii all along. Only now, the government is being totally blatant about it.
Interesting, though, how the courts keep calling bullshit on the state. First, the Hawaii Supreme Court stopped the Honolulu rail project because a complete archaeological inventory assessment (AIS) wasn't done to determine the presence of burials first. And last Friday, the Intermediate Court of Appeals stopped all construction at Kawaiahao Church, saying it was likely to be determined that the state should have required an AIS there, too.
Unfortunately, some 700 burials were disturbed at the Church in the three years it took for this case to work its way through the judicial system. To put that figure in perspective, at least 1,029 individuals were disinterred at Honokahua on Maui, prompting the adoption of the state burial laws.
So ironic, how the state passes laws, and then quickly sets about, with the assistance of developers, figuring out how to bypass them.
Speaking of calling bullshit, both the head of the Office of Youth Services and the Director of Hale Opio, which operates Teen Court, have submitted letters to the County Council that catch Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho (and Councilman Mel Rapozo) in yet another lie. This time, it's Shay's claim that OYS told her to stop all referrals to Teen Court.
I marvel at times that Shay continues to have her ardent supporters — I mean, aside from the spinmeisters paid big bucks to try try and whitewash the grime — who completely refuse to see the reality of Shay and the mess at OPA. But then I remind myself we also have Holocaust deniers and climate change deniers....
Just as we have those who deny that pesticides cause harm. Which is why I found myself in the unpleasant situation yesterday morning of being behind a state truck spraying Roundup along Kuhio Highway near the jail. There was no warning sign on the truck, and it wasn't until I was right behind it that I realized it was spraying. Since I don't have AC and I like the fresh air, all my windows and vents were open. I immediately felt a tingling in my nose and throat, and got a headache that lasted for the rest of the day.
If the state DOT insists on dosing the roadsides with poison, can't it at least post a sign warning motorists and bicyclists that we're about to encounter a toxic cloud so we can take some kind of precaution?
Fortunately, the day ended on a pleasant note, talking to a friend on the phone while sitting in my screen porch with the candles lit on a balmy night as crickets chirped. We discussed politics, Shay, the collective unconscious, realms beyond this one.
And as I watched the moon rise, golden through a porthole in the camphor tree branches, I thought, yes, politics can be an entertaining, infuriating distraction, sort of like a tawdry reality show, but that's not where the real power lies.